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Los Angeles Lakers 2015 roster: Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell lead interesting group

The Lakers may not be contenders in the West, but they should be entertaining in 2015-16.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers enter the 2015-16 season looking radically different from a year ago. From the return of a healthy (if aging) Kobe Bryant to offseason additions like No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell and center Roy Hibbert, Los Angeles made moves in the hopes that this season doesn't end up like the last.

There is indeed some thought that the Lakers are onto something after struggling through the past two years. Russell is a potential star and joins second-year players Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson as building blocks for the future. Hibbert isn't too far removed from being one of the best defensive big men in the league. Lou Williams, reigning Sixth Man of the Year, is sure to bring some added offensive punch.

And of course, there's still Kobe, Nick Young and the recently re-signed Metta World Peace, who will ensure that every Lakers game will be entertaining regardless of how good the team is.

This also underscores that the Lakers are a franchise with one foot in two camps. The team has worked hard to build up some young talent in Russell, Randle and Clarkson, yet veterans like Bryant, Hibbert, Williams and Brandon Bass will play pivotal roles. That should be enough to make the team competitive, but it could prevent the Lakers from keeping the top-3 protected first-round pick they owe to the 76ers.

Still, there's some positive momentum building for Los Angeles, and the team should be a major player in free agency next summer with a ton of big money off the books. This is a transition year for the Lakers, but it should still be fun.

LAST YEAR

RECORD: 21-61 (14th in Western Conference)
PLAYOFFS: DID NOT QUALIFY
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 100.8 (23rd)
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY: 108.0 (29th)

ROSTER

No.
PLAYER
POS
HEIGHT
WEIGHT
AGE
COLLEGE
0
Nick Young
SF
6-7 210
30
USC
1
D'Angelo Russell
PG
6-5 195
19
Ohio State
2
Brandon Bass PF
6-8 250
30
LSU
4
Ryan Kelly
PF 6-11 230
24
Duke
6
Jordan Clarkson
PG
6-5 185
23
Missouri
7
Larry Nance Jr. PF
6-9 230
22
Wyoming
9
Marcelo Huertas
PG
6-3
185
32
Brazil
12
Robert Upshaw
C
7-0
250 21 Washington
17
Roy Hibbert
C
7-2
270 28
Georgetown
23 Lou Williams
SG
6-1 175
28
High School
24
Kobe Bryant
SG 6-6 212
37 High School
28
Tarik Black
C
6-9 250 23
Kansas
30
Julius Randle
PF
6-9
250 20
Kentucky
37
Metta World Peace
SF
6-7
260
35
St. John's
50
Robert Sacre
C
7-0
270 26
Gonzaga

Coach: Byron Scott
Assistant coaches: Paul Pressey, Jim Eyen, Mark Madsen

OFFSEASON CHANGES

IN: D'Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Metta World Peace, Marcelo Huertas, Larry Nance Jr.
OUT: Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Jeremy Lin, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer, Wayne Ellington

The Lakers' big addition is Russell, the No. 2 pick out of Ohio State who could be an All-Star in a few years. Otherwise, the team shuffled some veterans by bringing in Williams, Bass and Huertas, and took some high-upside/low-risk fliers on Upshaw and Nance Jr.

DEPTH CHART


POINT GUARD
SHOOTING GUARD
SMALL FORWARD
POWER FORWARD
CENTER
STARTER
D'Angelo Russell
Jordan Clarkson
Kobe Bryant
Julius Randle
Roy Hibbert
RESERVE
Marcelo Huertas Lou Williams
Metta World Peace
Brandon Bass
Robert Sacre
RESERVE

Nick Young Anthony Brown
Ryan Kelly
Tarik Black
RESERVE



Larry Nance Jr.
Robert Upshaw

THE KEY QUESTION

Will this be it for Kobe Bryant?

The rookies and new talent is all well and good, but Kobe Bryant facing what may be the final year of his NBA career is the biggest question of all. He's entering his 20th season and injuries have stolen his basketball life from him over the past few years. If Kobe can remain healthy and is effective, would he consider pushing ahead with the young talent he's grooming and cap space to welcome All-Star talent with? If Kobe goes down with another injury, will that really be how his story ends?

-Drew Garrison, Silver Screen and Roll. Read the full Lakers season preview here.

PREDICTIONS

BEST-CASE: Russell wins Rookie of the Year despite splitting some votes with Randle, Hibbert settles down the defense and Kobe shows he's not quite done yet. The Lakers keep up the entertainment and stay in the mix for a playoff spot until the end of the season, then use that momentum to appeal to free agents over the summer.

WORST-CASE: Kobe gets hurt again, the young guys struggle, Hibbert slows down the offense and the team stumbles into complete mediocrity. They're not bad enough to keep their lottery pick or good enough to make a run toward the playoffs. Thus, they find themselves in no man's land trying to convince free agents to help them get to the next level.